TALK UP YOUT SCHOOL TOUR
Hopewell High School-#2
Date: September 17, 2013
The Second Stop on the Talk Up Yout School Tour
KINGSTON, 19 September 2013: Travelling the South Coast Route from Kingston to Hanover is a feat of no mean order, yet, The Talk Up Yout team led by Emprezz Golding, powered by UNICEF, National Bakery, Purewater, and accompanied by a representative of the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network & Steppa made the roughly 4 hour journey to give the students of Hopewell High School their chance to TALK UP! The excitement of the students was so infectious that before long the entire team felt energized and ready to hear the issues faced by the youths in Hanover.
The panel at Hopewell High School included Emprezz, Steppa,Donmarie Latouche (NCYD-Youth Empowerment Officer, Hanover), the guidance counselor of Hopewell High School and 5 five students, representative of each year group. The audience was comprised of almost 200 students and teachers of Hopewell High.
The students of Hopewell High unleashed a deluge of issues such as the Poor Operation of Schools, Poor Transportation Conditions, High School Dropouts, Teenage Pregnancy, Homosexuality, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Teenage Prostitution, Drugs including Marijuana, Lack of Parental Guidance, Moral Degradation, Loss of Community Parenting, Child Abuse, Premature Sexual Activity, Delinquent Fathers and Mothers, Rape, Juvenile Delinquency, Neglect and Abandonment, Suicide, Depression, Cutting and other forms of Self-Mutilation (e.g. Sewing one’s hands), Spousal Abuse, Illiteracy, Over-Exposure to Sexually Charged Material/Images and Indiscipline in Schools.
Much of the day’s discussion was centered on finding the causes and solutions of all of these issues, especially the ones the students identified as particularly prevalent. These included Child Abuse, Neglect and Abandonment and Self-Mutilation. Students were eager to share their personal experiences as well as those they had witnessed. Some students got emotional and had to be counseled by Talk Up Yout counselors separately.
One girl in particular seemed to have been holding so much trauma and pain inside of her that she broke down in tears and could not even express herself with words. Several students in the audience shared horror stories of mothers telling their children that they (the mothers) should have aborted them, telling them now that they ought to “gwaan guh dead”. Students spoke of overhearing parents abusing their children verbally and physically, and most importantly they spoke of how they felt in those situations and the feeling of not knowing who to turn to, not having anyone to confide in.
The Guidance Counselor of Hopewell High Ms. Thomas spoke of some of the issues that she, in her capacity as Guidance Counselor faces such as the reticence of parents to become involved in the life of the school and the lives of their children. Donamarie Latouche: The NCYD’s Youth Empowerment Officer agreed with her and said that parents are more likely to come to school when a student’s phone has been confiscated than for PTA meetings or any consultation at all with teachers.
Throughout the program the panelists, especially Emprezz, often left the stage to talk to the students who were sharing their experiences for the first time. Several students while speaking amongst themselves noted that, never before had anyone ever come to them and asked them how they felt, and what they were dealing with. Emprezz shared many uplifting quotations from people such as Marcus Garvey and Kofi Annan with the students and counseled them, encouraging them to believe in themselves, reminding them of the various agencies that exist solely to protect them from the kinds of situations they are facing.
A representative from the Office of the Children’s Registry gave the students the contact numbers of the various agencies that they can contact for help and UNICEF handed out help stickers to each child with similar information.
Although, the issues at Hopewell High and in Hanover are dire and need immediate response from the various authorities, there are success stories. There are phenomenal students, who, despite facing mammoth problems, have found little solutions to help combat their pain. One student, related to all present, how she uses dub poetry and music to take her to a place where she is safe, to heal herself, and she has since stopped turning to self-mutilation to keep her sanity. Several students gave performances after which Steppa performed to bring the day’s activities to a close.
Next Stop: Cumberland High School in St. Catherine. Students, get ready to Talk Up!
Written by Kristeena Monteith
At 12:05 in the afternoon, on Friday, September 13, 2013 the TALK UP YOUT team led by Emprezz Golding and accompanied by representatives from the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network, UNICEF, the National Centre for Youth Development and powered by National Baking Company and Purewater began the journey to the Tivoli Gardens High School for the first stop on the TALK UP YOUT School Tour. The day’s activities began with a panel discussion
moderated by Emprezz with panellists Steppa, Agent Sasco, a teacher at Tivoli Gardens High
School Mr Felton Robinson and five students who represented forms 1 to 5. The beautiful
students of Tivoli Gardens High School welcomed the chance to talk up and raised several
issues without any prompting. The panel discussion spanned an array of issues such as
Gun Violence, Bleaching, Sexual, Physical and Verbal Abuse and Rape, Emotional Pain, Peer
Pressure, Neglect, Juvenile Delinquency, Bullying, Depression, Sex, Teenage Pregnancy, the
distribution of condoms in schools and the negative influences of the media.
The students on the panel spoke confidently and openly of the issues affecting their
communities and Jamaica at large and were able to identify not only the causes of some of
these issues but also possible solutions. Students in the audience were encouraged to highlight
their issues and to comment on the various topics discussed as the afternoon progressed
and some of the more charismatic students gave examples of some of the issues by pointing
out students who were guilty of bullying or bleaching. Emprezz interacted with the students
throughout the discussion reminding them that they are beautiful, strong, intelligent and
confident students who have a voice that must be heard. This led to one student in particular
relating to all present his experience with bleaching and his subsequent termination of the
practice because as he put it “Mi nuh know why mi do it” and another, speaking up quite
emphatically about her opinion of older men who prey on the naivety and materialism of young
Emprezz asked thought-provoking questions which highlighted not only the issues faced
by youths in Jamaica, but also the mental effects that these issues have on students. She
demonstrated correlations between the history of Jamaica and the ills that affect the present
day society. Steppa, known extensively for his creative poems on the TALK UP YOUT show,
spoke of his experiences with juvenile delinquents and encouraged the students to never give
up because they always have a choice. Agent Sasco’s parting message was a call for students
and youths on a whole to take responsibility for themselves and their actions and to exercise
caution in their everyday lives so that they never place themselves in vulnerable positions. The
teacher on the panel reminded students to always remember that their futures are determined
by every choice they make. The students were also given help stickers with important
information on where to get help or advice after which they were treated to performances by
Steppa and Agent Sasco.
The issues highlighted by the students at Tivoli Gardens High School are important to the
Jamaican Society, as we can never truly ameliorate the conditions affecting the nation’s
children until we know what these problems are, and how the youths are affected by them.
Talk Up Yout recognizes the necessity of engaging the young minds of the country in stimulating
and uplifting dialogue thus the Talk Up Yout school tour will visit one school in each parish over
the course of the next 3 months. Webisodes of these visits will be available on social media.
Students at Hopewell High in Hanover, get ready to TALK UP when the Talk Up Yout School Tour comes to you.
Written by Kristeena Monteith
Talk Up Yout School Tour Journalist.
“I am the American Dream.”“I am the epitome of what the American Dream basically said. It said you could come from anywhere and be anything you want in this country. That's exactly what I've done.”
Whoopi Goldberg born Caryn Elaine Johnson is an outstanding American comedian, actress, singer-songwriter, political activist, and talk show host. Whoopi was really struggling in school, she had a lot of problems reading and because of that was called "slow", “dumb” and "retarded". She even dropped out of school at the age of 17.
Woopie knew that was neither slow nor dumb, but was facing a problem that wasn’t well defined. Finally as an adult discovered that she was dyslexic and with the help of a teacher learned the proper strategies to overcome her disability. Despite her dyslexia, Whoopi Goldberg became an incredibly successful entertainer. She has been awarded an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony, and a Grammy.
Nowadays she is the moderator on the popular daytime TV show “The View,” and like she said she is the American Dream.
The show for youth to TALK UP
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
GROUND-BREAKING local television programme Talk Up Yout recently rapped its first season on April 17, and TEENage sought to get reactions from producers Emprezz Mullings and Nadia Stanley on the success of the show.
TEENage: What has the response been to the show (from TEENs, parents and stakeholders)?
From left: Stanley & Empress Productions executives Nadia Stanley and Emprezz Mullings with Emma Charles, who hosted the launch night’s programme. (Photo: Observer File) 1/1
Empress: Wow, I can't believe the response. Speaking at the schools and walking the streets and seeing inbox comments, our online counselling forms and phone calls. We know the youth are begging for this medium. We have started to open a can of worms and teachers, parents, youth are unanimous in the necessity for this informative programming.
TEENage: How do you feel after being a part of the Talk Up Yout movement?
Nadia Stanley (producer): I am very proud of what we were able to accomplish in the first season of Talk Up Yout. Youths, from all walks of life, have reached out to us to start the dialogue of improving the youth experience in Jamaica. Next season we will strive harder to capture the attention of more youths and parents in a creative way. I feel the production of the show, although top notch, can be slightly improved with dynamic music and incorporating interaction between viewers and the show. I look forward to making those changes in Season Two!
Empress: I never expected to get the response I did from the audiences. Since and during the season I have visited some high schools and the Women's Centre in Spanish town on my empowerment session for the youth and when I asked who had seen the show the response was 90 per cent of the adolescent population. The phone calls, e-mails and form subscriptions to the website also told us that young people are out there who want a positive community to address their issues. I am now 100 per cent more confident and convicted that the second season must continue to hear from the young people and continue to be an inspiration.
TEENage: What topic triggered the most reaction?
Empress: The issues of HIV/Sexually transmitted infections; albinism; sexual abuse; deafness/hearing impaired and blindness. All of them affected people differently. Other issues discussed on the show were: Child labour; youth stigmas; illiteracy; abandoned youth; TEEN pregnancy; bleaching; crime and violence and drug abuse
TEENage: What was your favourite topic of the season?
Empress: Wow, hard to say. But the sexual abuse show was dearest to my heart as we cover it up too much and we need to expose it more so we can eliminate it.
TEENage: What are your plans for next season?
Empress: The issue of cutting will definitely be exposed on next season's shows. Street kids and transactional sex-boys will also be exposed. We have confirmed the second season with our network partner TVJ and we are looking forward to preparing for the season. Stay tuned next season for all the new topics.
TEENage: Can people still participate in the Talk Up Yout movement, and how?
Empress: Of course. We are asking all people to help us get ready for the second season by protecting the youth and giving them the tools they need for survival. Listen to them and protect them. We are asking corporate Jamaica to come on board, join an abviously effective youth life-changing movement and show and follow the lead of National Baking Company and email us their interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Jamaican please leave comments on www.talkupyout.com (forum and blog pages) regarding the shows and let's build the online community to uplift the Nation's future leaders and population. Please we are asking for people to go onto our Facebook page (search TalkUpYoutTVShow) and start dialogue about youth issues and solutions. We beg our youth to start finding someone they can talk with and find a space of peace and fulfillent. We are begging all Jamaicans to report sexual abuse, get tested for sexually transmitted Infections, get literate, get knowledge, empower each other, build the nation, get creative, create industries, and protect our children.
TEENage: How has the website contributed to the movement?
Empress: We have posted jobs online for youth to check in on and asking people/companies with jobs available to send us their classifieds so we can post them FREE of CHARGE for young people to get access. The online counselling form has been effective and people are sending in their need for someone to talk to confidentially and help them through their abusive, depressive and suicidal situations. we have helped some of them through online mentorship and mediation. It is in its developing stage and with more corporate support we will launch in full speed next year 2012 for season two. For the donations page, Jamaicans locally and in the Diaspora are able to send in donations for specific needs of the Jamaican youth population.
Here are some of the comments, provided by Talk Up Yout, from its social media sites:
I love to see that there is someone out there talking about the issues that affect our Jamaican youths. I have a physical disability and growing up in Jamaica was so stressful. But now I understand that if people don't understand something they will not know how to react to that thing. I came to Canada and I am dedicating myself to advocate for people with any form of limitation, and hopefully by the grace of God I will be able to come back to Jamaica and motivate someone. Thank Emprezz and the production crew. Keep up the good wrk. One love and God bless!
Dear Stanley and Empress,
Although nursing the symptoms of the flu I had to get up at 11:00 pm to watch your programme on albinism. This topic is very dear to my heart as my beautiful daughter is albinistic so on seeing it mentioned in your advert the next thought that came to mind is when will this topic be discussed. I was, therefore, happy to be informed by my students yesterday that it was discussed (they were not aware of my interest in the topic). Apparently, the show inspired food for thought and so my first form students at Manning's School, Westmoreland where I teach wanted to talk up. Needless to say I was happy to share since, unknowing to them, my recent research for the completion of the Masters of Arts in Communication for Social and Behaviour Change at CARIMAC was on albinism among pre-adolescents and adolescents. This research is the first to be done on albinism in the Caribbean.
Ladies, it was difficult for me to get the students to return to the lesson at hand. I am extremely happy that your programme focused on albinism and encourage you to keep up the splendid work. Work like yours fosters the well=-needed development of our youth. You have made me exceedingly proud.
This show makes me happy because it elevated youths to speak about themselves in whatever way the situation they problem was/is and that's very good. I am happy Jamaica have this wonderful program TALK UP YOUT!!!
Children selling on the streets may seem like something reasonable for survival. But it can be seen from the re-enacted stories and from the interview that it is not okay and very risky for the safety and well being of the young person. So great to be enlightened. Thank you for the message. Empress you looked simply elegant.
I must say the historical thoughts are powerful.
Again, awsome!!! to present a whole show communicating to the hearing impaired. Not easy, but congratulations to Empress, her interpreter and the two beautiful guests, it was successful. I am a regular Internet viewer and I look forward to taking time out to view the shows on my weekends as I live in a different time zone and don't get the opportunity to view the show live. Love this show for the educational value.
(sic) this is ma comm studies I.A topic so i really appreciate this episode!!!!! thank you guys and keep trodding the great path u r on!!!!!!!
SEXUAL ABUSE: i (sic) my name is shanice and i was abuse (sic).
I am not easily impressed but new tv show TalkUpYout is indeed a great production, that seeks to uplift, educate and motivate our nation and its youth while finding solutions. Not many shows want the solution as much as they want the ratings. Congrats to Nadia Stanley and Emprezz
Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/teenage/The-show-for-youths-to-TALK-UP_8761168#ixzz1Q8Vr8CGG
WRITTEN BY FAREEZA HANIFF
How did he get the virus?
Jason began having unprotected sex with older women. He did this so that he could fit in with his friends.
“At age 10, I started liming with boys at the corner. Dem a gallis (Men with lots of women), dem a look girl, dem a look the latest car and the latest clothes wear. I was like the youngest one trying to fit in,” Jason said.
One day, he observed a ‘rash’ on his skin. Jason didn’t take it seriously and took the advice from his friends to drink some “bitters.” Instead of helping, the liquid weakened his system.
“So it end up that I stop tek it and mi end up going to the Health Center and dem tell mi do an HIV test.” Back in 2004, persons had to wait an entire month before they received their results. What did Jason do during the month he waited?
“Ah went home sit down and flash back in ah mi mind because they neva had no counseling back then so mi wonder if mi have HIV, but then mi seh it can’t be positive because I’m a kind of person that date older females. It end up that I only dated fat girls and those who already had kids. Mi seh no man, mi can’t be HIV positive,” Jason explained.
After a month elapsed, he went back to the Health Center. He sat in the doctor’s office, and was not prepared for what came out of her mouth. Jason burst out in laughter when the doctor read the results to him. He didn’t believe it. He thought he was dreaming. However, reality eventually stepped in.
“The doctor said I was HIV Positive. Mi laugh about three times. Mi laugh man and then mi tek the paper out of her hand and mi see a real thing ah go on. Mi blank out a couple minutes well…the brain just shut down. It end up that the only thing that was going through my mind is that boy I gon dead. I will die a very painful death,” Jason recalled.
He left the Health Center in a daze and went straight home. At that time, his mother knew he had taken the test and that his results were back. Jason, however, lied to his mother and told her he tested negative. The next morning, Jason left his home and tried to commit suicide. He thought his world had ended.
Fortunately for him, he was stopped by a man who persuaded him that life is worth living.
“The man said, you know seh young man, anything at all wah yuh in or go through right now, you can come out of it and from there, I went back to the hospital the next day and hear the doctor just repeat that line again… “You’re HIV positive.”
Breaking the news
Jason didn’t go home that night and his family frantically searched for him. Jason said he didn’t have the courage to tell his mother that he had tested positive for the virus.
He eventually went home knowing that he had to tell his mother the dreadful news, but he didn’t know how to do it. Jason said he mustered all the strength he could and told his tearful mother who immediately telephoned his father and informed him.
According to Jason, his father left his work place to see him. “The first thing daddy seh, ‘wait ya sleep with man now?’
His entire family was informed. The disclosure triggered chaos in the family, and accusations were wildly thrown at him. His family could not believe that a doctor would reveal such delicate information to a teenager.
One of his uncles managed to calm the family and they all went back to the Health Center the very next day. The news didn’t change. The doctor told them the same thing she told Jason. Jason’s mother was terrified. She threatened to poison his food so that he would die.
His father went into a corner of the room and began to cry. His parents started to argue and blamed each other for his way of life.
However, Jason sought medical attention. His CD4 count (white blood cells that fight off infections) was low and the doctor told him he could have died. He received the anti – retroviral drugs but no one told him of the side effects – the constant diarrhea, the nightmares, and the breakdown of his system so that it could be rebuilt.
At only 17 – years – old, Jason endured the horrors, but he is grateful for the support he received from his family. Despite the support, he isolated himself. He recalled the days of this ‘high scented’ cream he was given to rub on his skin for the rash. As a result of the high scent, he stayed indoors during the day and would only venture outside during the night. He didn’t want to face anyone.
Luckily for him, he visited Jamaica AIDS Support, made up of a network of counselors. While there, Jason was convinced that there is life after contracting the virus. He started to work for the support group and during that time, he was asked to speak to someone who recently found out that he, too, was HIV positive. Jason was very hesitant to do it at first, but he eventually conceded.
“It let down a stress from me when I did it.”
In 2004, HIV/AIDS was taboo in Jamaica. People would not publicly discuss the virus, and they ridiculed those who were infected. This was no different for Jason. The rumor mill went wild in his community and people started to gossip about him.
His mother would hear neighbours talk about him and she would go home crying. But Jason is no ordinary HIV patient. When he saw people clustered together on street corners and looking at him, he knew they were discussing his status so he would walk right up to them and ask, “Yo ah mi ya talk bout?”
They would obviously deny, but Jason didn’t back down. He told them bluntly, “Yea man. Mi HIV positive.” They would laugh because they didn’t think he would be that frank and tell them the truth to their faces.
His friends, on the other hand, gave him as much support as they could. He even encouraged them to get tested because most of them felt that they were immune to the virus.
“Mi have to give mi hats off to them because when them hear about my status, they really look into it and supported me.”
Although it has been seven years now since he has been living with HIV, Jason is still exposed to some amount of stigma and discrimination from persons, even more so now that he publicly talks about the disease.
Who infected him?
Jason does not know which one of the women he slept with gave him the virus. As a matter of fact, all the women he had sex with, denied ever having sexual contact with him when he told them he was infected.
“No, mi nah know ah which one of them girl them that infected me. It is my fault because I never used a condom.” This is one of the main reasons why Jason decided to publicly speak about his status. He encourages persons, especially the younger generation, to always use a condom.
During his time, society held the perception that only ‘slim’ persons were infected with HIV/AIDS and that fat people did not have the virus. Jason had the same perception, thus his reason for dating ‘fat women’.
Jason fears that there might still be youths out there who hold a similar perception and he intends to change that.
For the past five years, Jason has been employed with the Ministry of Health in Jamaica as an outreach officer, spreading information on how to prevent HIV. He is trying to save money to purchase a piece of land in his country. “Ya see right now, things hard in Jamaica,” Jason stressed.
Although he is healthy, he still suffers from terrible mood swings. Every morning he wakes up to the grim reality that he is a victim of HIV.
Jason would scream to the top of his voice when the truth kicks him in the stomach. This is one way he releases the tension, but he is a typical example that life does not end when you have a deadly disease.
He still engages in sex with one partner. As a matter of fact, Jason even has a girlfriend, whom he has been with for approximately one and a half year. And yes, she knows about his status. According to him, he has a draw filled with all type of condoms.
Before hooking up with his current girlfriend, Jason said that he had sex with other women since he became infected. He claims that he told all of them about his status, except for one. He said that he used a condom, but the girl eventually found out the truth after one of his friends told her about his status.
“It is my right to tell a person that I am HIV positive or not,” Jason said.
His advice to people: “Seek the information; get tested even if you are a virgin. This will prepare you for future relationships and use a condom, every time. If someone tells you that they are HIV Positive, love the person same way, respect the person same way.”
Jason Richards continues his journey in life as a very optimistic individual. Just like us, he has dreams and aspirations to become someone with a purpose. The fact that he has HIV does not stop him from being happy and being the man he wants to be.
Some of us may think that we are facing the worst, but listening to Jason and his situation one can only be inspired. Like all of us, Jason knows he will die one day, but he still manages to smile through the tears and fears that come with living with HIV.
Talk Up Yout
The television show's Season 6 is will be on Television Jamaica in is currently brought to you by National Baking Company.